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From the European Patent Office yesterday came the news item that is reproduced in its entirety below, both for the benefit of those readers who may not have seen it and for the benefit of those readers who, having seen it, have not yet emailed it to this moggy on the basis that it might have escaped her attention. The subject matter is Wednesday's visit of the UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, to the EPO.
This moggy is aware that a lot of readers had pinned their hopes on the Baroness being able to use this visit as an opportunity for her to express her Government's concern at the level of disquiet -- a disquiet which is not rumoured to exist but which is clearly in evidence -- at both the governance of the EPO and the anxieties of its staff members, many of whom are rumoured to be British. Failing that, some hoped that the Baroness would at least take the opportunity to speak with, or just listen to, some of the union and staff representatives who have no clear route to take in their long and arduous journey to seek redress for what they plainly perceive, with some reason, to be serious grievances.
Others have been less optimistic. With the UK Government's five-year term hurtling towards its close and with Parliamentary business being speedily wound up ahead of the Easter break and the following General Election, this was not an opportunity for a visiting Minister to do anything more significant than pose for photographs, shake hands and, when called upon, to kiss the occasional baby. In any event, like most ministerial visits, this one would have been scheduled months if not years ahead of its taking place so there was no reason to suspect that it was in any way connected with the current turmoil -- for that is what it appears to be -- in the EPO.
From the text of the report below, one might be led to suspect that the visit of the Baroness achieved nothing from the point of view of either the UK Government or the many people who hoped that it might indicate that the UK Government was taking a more active role, or at least an active interest, in the current situation. The sole beneficiary of the visit so far has been the EPO and its President, which not unnaturally made the most of a gifted opportunity to put out some cheerful information about itself, its achievements and the fact that its President and the UK Minister "shared common views on recent developments in intellectual property".
Kats have short memories, but some things stick in the mind. One is that the Minister is not the first Neville to have paid a wasted visit to Munich. Back in September 1938 the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, returning from a meeting with a notable dictator, was able to declare that he had achieved "Peace for our time". Sadly, despite the Prime Minister's best intentions and most sincere hopes, this turned out not to be the case. This moggy sincerely hoped that the visit of the Baroness would have done something to bring about peace, but there is little indication as yet that this will be so.
European patent reform in focus of talks with UK intellectual property minister
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